Sunday, 6 April 2008

Serie A Week 32: Sunday Review

Inter regained their four-point advantage over Roma at the top of Serie A after a 2-0 win at Atalanta while Fiorentina won to remain four ahead of Milan and Sampdoria. Elsewhere, Palermo stun Juventus and both Walter Zenga and Gigi Cagni make winning debuts.

Inter restored their four-point advantage over Roma with a comfortable win over ten-man Atalanta in Bergamo. Patrick Vieira gave the visitors the lead midway through the first half with a powerful header from a corner, before 17-year-old Mario Balotelli made the points safe 16 minutes from time when he rounded Atalanta keeper Ferdinando Coppola to score. In stoppage time, Atalanta's Cristiano Doni was sent-off for dissent.

Fiorentina comfortably beat relegation battlers Reggina 2-0 in Florence to maintain a firm grip on the fourth Champions League qualifying spot. Goals either side of the break from Giampaolo Pazzini and Adrian Mutu ensured the win while Reggina hit the post through Franco Brienza before Fiorentina's Manuel Pasqual hit the crossbar as both sides served up an entertaining encounter. The Viola have a four-point advantage over AC Milan and Sampdoria.

Mattia Cassani scored a dramatic late winner as Palermo edged out Juventus in Sicily. Palermo forward Amauri played his way into the shop window against a club reportedly among those interested in acquiring his services with two goals in the first half. But the second half belonged to Alessandro Del Piero, who brought Juve back into the game in the 52nd minute, equalised in the 71st minute before hitting the post as the Bianconeri looked for a winner. Yet there was one final twist in the tale with Cassani's late strike giving coach Stefano Colantuono a win on his home return to the Palermo bench.

Sampdoria made it five wins in their last six games to remain in the race for the last Champions League qualifying spot after beating struggling Livorno at home. Christian Maggio and Emiliano Bonazzoli both scored in the second half to extend Livorno's winless run to six matches. Giancarlo Camolese's men remain just one place above the relegation zone on goal difference and are just two points off the foot of the table. Samp are level on points with fifth-placed AC Milan and just four points behind Fiorentina.

New Catania coach Walter Zenga got off to the perfect start in Serie A as his side sailed to a comprehensive victory over Napoli. Giuseppe Colucci set the tone for the match when he scored as early as the third minute before Gionatha Spinesi doubled the hosts' advantage and Juan Manuel Vargas sealed the victory shortly after half-time. The result all but secures Catania's safety in the top flight for another year.

Ighli Vannucchi popped up with the winner three minutes from time as Empoli moved off the foot of the standings with a priceless away victory at Torino. The result marks a superb start for returning Empoli coach Luigi Cagni, who was re-appointed by the Tuscan club after the dismissal of Alberto Malesani, who replaced Cagni at the helm in November. The three points lift Empoli above Cagliari and Reggina and on to 29 points, although Cagni's troops remain in the relegation zone due to an inferior goal difference. Toro's 10th defeat of the campaign leaves them five points clear of the drop zone with just six games remaining.

In-form Siena continued their surge up the Serie A table as they held high-flying Udinese to a draw. Substitute Houssoine Kharja gave the Tuscans the lead on 69 minutes, shortly after coming off the bench, before Udinese coach Pasquale Marino pulled off an equally astute substitution by bringing on Antonio Floro Flores who scored on 77 minutes. But it will be the visitors who will leave disappointed as they failed to keep up the pressure on the sides chasing Champions League football above them in the table.

Parma slipped dangerously close to the relegation zone despite earning a point at home to Lazio. The home side took a 16th-minute lead through Igor Budan but Lazio scored twice in three minutes courtesy of Goran Pandev and Rolando Bianchi. Massimo Paci equalised three minutes before half-time and neither side were able to find a winner in the second half. The result leaves Parma 16th, just a point above the relegation zone, but with a game in hand.

[Saturday 5 Apr] - [Sunday 6 Apr]

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